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Antiques & of

TERRY INGRAM signals two fresh names to Australia’s art pantheon

AUGUST 2012 – FEBRUARY 2013 ISSUE 83 AUSTRALIA $16.95 NZ $20.95 SINGAPORE $20.00 UK £7.00 US $13.00 €10.50

PHOTOGRAPHING AN IMPERMANENT REALITY A review of Frances Benjamin Johnston

NADIM KARAM Blurring the edges between art, architecture and urbanism

AN INTERNATIONAL RESEARCH PROJECT explores the fate of an 18th century maritime prize of war


Contents 107

AROUND THE AUCTIONS

91

Woven treasures: silk beyond compare Simon Peers has created textiles from the Madagascan

Auction highlights from the major houses

spider Nephilamadagascariensis, a seemingly impossible feat

ART 44

Jock McFadyen: a painter of places

4

EDITORIAL

8

Yipwon: spirit figure from the Yiman people of

Selina Skipwith 84

John Sell Cotman: revealed in a new light Timothy Wilcox

88

HERITAGE Papua New Guinea Crispin Howarth

Sir Peter Lely: painter of stories and song Caroline Campbell

32

Back to the Olympic future: Stadia’s political role ´ ´ Dr Jerzy J Kierkuc-Bielinski

ARTNEWS 12

John Martin: The End of the World

96

Shakespeare: staging the world is the British Museum’s

Apocalyptic Victorian paintings, a New Zealand art dealer

contribution to the London 2012 Festival

and an Australian connection

Dora Thornton

Terry Ingram 100 54

Exploring Renaissance society and culture

Lyrical abstraction: the Australian connection

via Doctrina Armorium

Terry Ingram

Dr Tobias Capwell sheds light on the enormous importance of the sword and swordplay in Renaissance Europe

65

International outlook

106

Code name: Force Benedict and the Order of Lenin,

120

INDEX OF ADVERTISERS

58

Gardens for a Beautiful America 1895-1935:

the Soviet Union’s highest honour

LIBRIS

Cherie Prosser

119

photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnston

CONTRIBUTORS

Review by Dr Erika Esau

DECORATIVE ARTS AND DESIGN 26

Westmorland: an English prize and Grand Tour time capsule Dr Catherine Whistler

38

PROFILE 18

Urban toys and dreams Elspeth Moncrieff met Nadim Karam, the artist behind The Travellers, Melbourne’s landmark sculpture

Silver from the Raj: symbolic of the fusion of British and Indian culture Dr John Henry Rice

51

A pair of candle vases made by Matthew Boulton (1728–1809) Robert Reason

80

New galleries crown Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts Dr Phoebe C Segal & Richard A Grossmann

2 World of Antiques & Art

COVER Yimam people (Korewori River region, East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea), Yipwon, early 20th century, wood, patina, h: 151 cm. National Gallery of Australia The Yipwon as previously displayed in the National Gallery’s Abstract Expressionism Gallery complimenting (left to right) Rothko’s 1957#20 (NGA 81.729) and Multiform (NGA 81.730)


THE NATIONAL GALLERY OF AUSTRALIA’S

Yipwon

Of all the arts of Papua New Guinea, one small tribal community created spirit figures quite unlike anything to be found anywhere else in the world

Crispin Howarth he Korewori River is an incredibly remote tributary flowing, from the south, into the mighty Sepik River of Papua New Guinea. Even today this rugged area of dense bush and impenetrable marshland is seldom visited by outsiders and has had little contact with the rest of the world. The Yimam people who live in this region have conceptualised a most extraordinary abstraction of the human form known as Yipwon. Such sculpture have not been produced for cultural purposes for some fifty years and the majority known today were collected en-masse during the 1960s by a small handful of art collectors active in the Korewori River area of Papua New Guinea. There are very few Yipwon in Australian collections — the National Gallery’s exquisite example is the only one on public display — as they were collected and taken mainly to the United States where tribal arts were very much appreciated at that time. Once these radically envisioned forms appeared in the western world they created something of a sensation among artists and collectors.

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Yimam people (Korewori River region, East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea), Yipwon, early 20th century, wood, patina, h: 151 cm. National Gallery of Australia

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UrbanToys and Dreams WHERE THEY’RE FOR REAL Elspeth Moncrieff met Nadim Karam, the artist behind The Travellers – Melbourne’s landmark sculpture located on the Sandridge Bridge – and found his Beirut studio, Atelier Hapsitus, buzzing with ambitious ideas for urban projects worldwide.

Below: Clouds and Smoke project, computer generated images of The merry-goround and The Windmill of Chance for Art Dubai 2013 Below right: Father Elephant, 2009, glass and resin beads on wood sculpture, 150 x 200 x 24 cm

lthough merely a stone’s throw from the National Museum of Beirut and having major works installed in Beirut, London, Tokyo and Prague, Atelier Hapsitus is located in a small unimposing building. The name is a combination of the words ‘happening’ and ‘situations’ which together, Karam observed,

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often produce an unpredictable outcome. This not only defines Karam’s philosophy, but also describes the group of architects and designers who collaborate on his urban projects — how they are engaged in what he views is an experimental field of work, blurring the edges between art, architecture and urbanism.


Top: Lollipop Boy, 2011, lacquered coloured buttons, wood, metal, base, 90 x 83 x 11 cm Bottom: The Fisherman Fishing High Rise Buildings, 2008, mixed media on canvas, 200 x 120 cm

Although currently best known in the Middle East and South East Asia, Karam’s work is becoming increasingly recognised in the west. Over the course of the next year he is exhibiting at the Institute du Monde Arab, Paris; he will be permanently represented in London when his dealers Ayyam Gallery open on Bond Street in October; and he is creating a major installation for Art Dubai in March 2013. Karam’s work transcends traditional political boundaries; he was born in West Africa of Lebanese parents and lived in Japan from 1982 to 1992 where he trained as an architect. Since 1993 he has lived in Lebanon where he runs his flourishing architectural practice. His understanding of the urban landscape and the forces and cultures that shape it, inform his work and give a tangible form to his extraordinary imagination and creativity. Despite the seriousness that underlies many of his projects, his work is invested with immense humour, and a strong narrative content. Karam believes that cities must dream and his sculptures are ‘Urban Toys’, that is, they hold the memories of a city’s past while creating its future. This same blend of humour and seriousness is present in the artist himself: Karam punctuates his sentences with an infectious chuckle. He delights in facts like the necessity for a button factory to produce 3,000 kilos of multi-coloured buttons for his iconic elephant sculptures. When asked why the elephant motif is so strong in his work he explains in a down-to-earth manner: ‘Because it provides me with such a large surface to decorate.’ He laughs at the absurdity of creating 500 sculptures for an exhibition on Kagami Lake in Japan that lasted for only ten days. His studio is a cross between a child’s toy shelf and a magician’s cave. In the entrance hall, a ten foot high tree of multi-coloured flowers greets you. On a shelf sits a marvellous purple elephant surrounded by its ‘aura’ — an enveloping cloud of little figures and ideas which represent memories the animal will forever carry. Amongst the desks where team Hapsitus sit at computers


New galleries crown

BOSTON’S MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS

Two new state-of-the-art galleries at the MFA opening later this year will house over 800 objects from the Museum’s world renowned collection of Classical art

Phoebe C. Segal and Richard A. Grossmann he Museum of Fine Arts, Boston possesses one of the finest collections of ancient numismatics in the US, with strengths concentrated in the Greek coinage of Sicily and southern Italy, Hellenistic and Roman Imperial portrait coins and Roman Provincial coinage. The core of the collection — as with its Classical collection generally — was built by Edward Perry Warren, who from about 1890 to 1920, purchased large numbers of coins on the European market on the museum’s behalf. Another central figure, Theodora Wilbour, contributed

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Top: Roman cameo with portrait busts of an Imperial Julio-Claudian couple Right: Spool earring, early 5th century BCE, gold. Francis Bartlett Donation of 1900. Photograph © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

significant Greek and Roman coins to the collection in the 1930s and established the Theodora Wilbour Fund in memory of Zoë Wilbour, an acquisition fund that enables the MFA to acquire coins of the highest quality to this day. In recent times, Cornelius Vermeule, distinguished numismatist and curator of Greek and Roman art, added substantially to the quality and depth of the collection, particularly in the area of Roman provincial coinage. The Michael C. Ruettgers Gallery gives an appreciation of these objects in the broader context of the Classical world illustrating the historical development of ancient coinage and revealing how cities, kings, and empires utilised coins — small in scale, and yet loaded with pictorial and textual information — as the world’s first form of mass-communication.


Greece, 3rd quarter 4th century BCE, gold earring in the form of Nike (Victory) driving a two-horse chariot

The coins are arranged both thematically and chronologically, to emphasise ancient coins as highly sophisticated, beautiful works of art on a miniature scale, while also exploring the cultural and political history they embody. Sculpture, vases, and other works of ancient and post-antique art are on view alongside, illustrating iconographic inter-connections across media and through time. The space of the gallery itself has been designed to encourage close viewing and aesthetic appreciation. Interactive digital consoles will complement time-tested tools, such as magnifying lenses, inviting visitors to observe graphic details at a minute level to engage with multiple layers of interpretation. The interactive tools will be especially valuable because they will allow visitors to view both sides of each coin. Two highlights are drawn from the collection of Sicilian coins, considered by many to be the most beautiful ancient coins because of their sophisticated modelling and minuteness of detail. Die engravers evidently took enough pride in their artistic achievement that they signed their works of art. The first is the most celebrated ancient coin in the museum’s collection. It is known as the Demareteion, because it was once believed that Demarete, wife of the Syracusan ruler Gelon I (r. 485–478 BCE), was involved with its creation. The female head encircled by four dolphins represents Arethusa, a nymph who was transformed into a fountain on the island of Ortygia, where the city of Syracuse was founded. The depiction of Arethusa is a masterpiece of die engraving, as sophisticated and powerful an embodiment of the early Classical style in Greek art as any painted vase or monumental sculpture. The second is a silver coin from Akragas (present-day Agrigento) in Sicily, mined in 414–413 BCE. Its imagery signifies the city’s deep connection with water. At the top appears a detailed and accurate depiction of a freshwater crab, perhaps symbolic of nearby rivers. Below is a creature with the head and torso of a woman, a pair of wolves emerging from her waist, and a serpent-like lower body ending in the tail of a fish. She is Skylla, a sea monster whose attacks

on passing ships are recounted in Homer’s Odyssey and other works of ancient literature. The collection of Roman republican coinage was enhanced considerably in 2002 with the purchase of a silver denarius minted in 43–42 BCE. This coin may be the most renowned of all Roman coins, due to its instantly recognisable link with one of ancient history’s pivotal events — the assassination of Julius Caesar by Brutus and his associates. The abbreviated words EID MAR refer to March 15, the day in 44 BCE on which Caesar was killed. Between a pair of daggers, which allude to the weapons used by the assassins, is a pileus, the ‘cap of liberty’ worn by freed slaves (a symbol revived during the American and French Revolutions). The coin’s message is clear: Caesar was a tyrant, and ending his life restored Rome’s freedom. Finally, a gilt-silver medallion with the head of Constantine I, minted in about CE 326–327, demonstrates how the use of coinage to convey powerful political messages continued during the Roman Empire. In this case, the emperor Constantine I appeals to traditionalists and a growing Christian population at the same time. Constantine’s upward gaze, youthful visage, and the diadem on his head, allude to Hellenistic kings going back to Alexander the Great. To Christians, on the other hand, Constantine — who had legalised Christian worship in 313 — would have appeared as a pious co-believer in an attitude of prayer.

World of Antiques & Art 81


Lely PAINTER OF STORIES AND SONG It comes as a surprise to learn that portrait painting may not have been Peter Lely’s preferred genre and many of his lyrical narrative paintings may lie undiscovered in private collections

Top: Two Children Singing, c. 1650, oil on canvas, 61 x 55 cm. Private collection Philip Mould Above: The Concert, c. 1650, oil on canvas, 123.1 x 234 cm. The Courtauld Gallery, London

All artworks by Sir Peter Lely (1618-80)

Caroline Campbell n 1994, as a postgraduate research student of Italian Renaissance art at The Courtauld Institute of Art in London, I first encountered the work of Peter Lely, or more particularly, one large canvas called The Concert. In between lectures and seminars I found myself drawn repeatedly to this picture, which hung in the Institute’s gallery in the midst of very different

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88 World of Antiques & Art

works by Rubens and Van Dyck. This painted depiction of musicians and beautiful women in an idyllic landscape intrigued me. It was painted quickly and showily, with a handsome moustachioed man playing the viola da gamba at its centre. At the right, two striking but unapproachable ladies surveyed the scene. What could this painting represent? Where was it set? And what could it possibly mean? The current exhibition at The Courtauld Gallery represents years of my research (some fruitful, some not) to discover more about this perplexing, intriguing


A Pair of Lovers in a Landscape, c. 1643, oil on canvas, 85.5 x 95.3 cm. Musee des Beaux-Arts, Valenciennes

and compelling work. Lely is a familiar figure to anyone who has ever looked at British historical portraits. He was a Dutchman who came to England in the early 1640s, and became Principal Painter to Charles II following his restoration to the English throne in 1660. The outstanding artistic personality of Restoration England, Lely remained so until his death, apparently at the easel, in his studio in Covent Garden in 1680. It is through Lely that we see the court of Charles II, in Lely’s portraits of the king’s many mistresses and courtiers. His large and efficient studio painted everyone of any significance in mid seventeenth-century England. Country houses and museums alike are full of paintings by him, or which can be associated with his manner. Arguably Lely did more even than Van Dyck to shape the evolution of portrait painting in England. Lely’s career could, however, have been very different. It was by no means inevitable that he

should become a portraitist. His early ambition was to be a painter of narrative subjects. This was by far the most prestigious career for an artist trained in Holland, particularly in Haarlem where Lely had learnt to paint in the 1630s, in the studio of Frans Pietersz. de Grebber. He devoted himself to the production of what were called ‘subject pictures,’ whose narratives were inspired by classical mythology, the Bible or contemporary literature. The Courtauld exhibition is the first to take an in-depth look at this highly significant but understudied aspect of Lely’s painterly production. It begins with his earliest independent pictures, including A Pair of Lovers in a Landscape and culminates with several large-scale and enigmatic evocations of an unspoilt Arcadia: The Concert (The Courtauld Gallery) and Nymphs at a Fountain (Dulwich Picture Gallery). These pastoral subjects resonate with a lyrical dream of England, all the more extraordinary for having been painted during the turmoil of the English Civil War and its aftermath.

World of Antiques & Art 89


libris

Gardens for a Beautiful America 1895 – 1935: Photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnston Sam Watters Acanthus Press, published in association with the Library of Congress, 2012. 378 pages, 300 colour illustrations. Hardcover US$79.00/£57.45

Review by Erika Esau

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n 1905, the two most famous women photographers in America, Gertrude Käsebier (1852–1934) and Frances Benjamin Johnston (1864–1952), travelled together on a cruise through the Mediterranean. They got along ‘capitally,’ as Johnston wrote. While in Venice, they made an amusing and revealing photograph of themselves, sitting in a café, elegant and proper ladies of the early twentieth century. But looks — even photographic looks — can be deceiving, Frances Johnston holding a camera, c. 1950

58 World of Antiques & Art

especially when produced with selfconscious and even amused recognition of the image’s capacity to construct a contrived reality. By this time, both of these women had for many years been committed to a rebellion, enthusiastically participating in the transformative efforts to break down the stifling social restrictions that continued to define women’s lives in the nineteenth century. After the Civil War in America, with increased prosperity, advances in technology, and the onset of more progressive ideas about the place of the so-called ‘New Woman’ in society, women of the middle and upper classes increasingly strove for and ultimately gained access to creative endeavours outside of private spheres and domestic obligations. Photography, an art form and technology tied from its beginnings to the notion of democratic accessibility,

Plate 64 ‘Burrwood’, 1916, Walter Jennings house, Cold Spring Harbor, New York. Sunken garden and fountain, glass lantern slide, hand-coloured, 8.25 x 10.16 cm

appeared as an ideal, socially acceptable occupation in which women could make their mark as amateurs and, even more significantly, as professional practitioners. In the period from 1870 to the turn of the century, thousands of women took up photography, both as a means of artistic expression and as a way to make a living. Käsebier and Johnston were at the forefront of these heady developments. By the time they sat so properly in the Venetian café, they had long been recognised as professional art photographers represented in the most prestigious art magazines and with works selected for the best photographic exhibitions. Each had played their part in the battles to see photography considered

Photographers Gertrude Käesebier and Frances Benjamin Johnston dining, Venice, California, 1905


Fig. 30b ‘Grey-Croft’, 1913, Stephen Swete Cummins house lily pool, Emma Woodhouse Cummins, landscape gardener, the design inspired by Claude Monet, Le Bassin Aux Nymphéas Harmonie Verte, 1899

a viable art, a battle centred in America around the autocratic figure of Alfred Stieglitz (1864–1946), his group the Photo-Secession, and his journal Camera Work (1903–1917). Both women had to establish their own professional stance in relation to Stieglitz’s looming presence. Käsebier had only recently moved away from his elitist ideas about art photography untainted by commerce, although her own images would continue to be tied to pictorialist sentimentality. Johnston, on the other hand, had never had an interest in the most flagrant manipulations of the photographic object, and distanced herself early from the Photo-Secession imbroglios. Johnston gained fame from the 1880s through the 1940s primarily as a documentary and commercial photographer, focussing on portraits and in other assignments on clear-cut, fact-driven, images that nonetheless belied her training as an artist. As Johnston wrote herself, she wanted her images to be seen as more than ‘just’ photographs, but she nonetheless relied on her photographic skills to remain an independent businesswoman. Johnston’s garden photographs are the subject of Gardens for a Beautiful America 1895–1935: Photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnston, produced by Californian writer Sam Watters. Watters has taken on a challenging task; his previous books looked at houses in Los Angeles and presented a social history of the White House, but the history of gardens is a topic that lies close to his heart. Johnston’s garden images were part of an ambitious project completed late in the photographer’s life and long after her

Plate 85 ‘Grey-Croft’, 1913, Stephen Swete Cummins house, Huntting Lane, East Hampton, New York. Japanese iris garden, glass lantern slide, hand-coloured, 8.25 x 10.16 cm

early fame for portraits of presidents — Theodore Roosevelt, for example, stating: ‘Miss Johnston is a lady, and whom I personally know & can vouch for; she does good work...’ (1899) (page 9)1 — and a famous series in the 1890s on black students at Virginia’s Hampton Institute. The photographs, part of the massive archive that Johnston left to the Library of Congress in the 1930s, have recently been made available to the public online at the Library’s website. This comprehensive book was written to coincide with the launch of this digital collection. Watters examined and, amazingly, identified the gardens in over 1,000 lantern-slide images, most of them unlabelled and of gardens long gone or altered beyond recognition. He has presented the context in which the images were created with depth and with an attention to detail that would have been unattainable for other scholars not so wellgrounded in the world of gardens, architecture, and the history of American social privilege. For those interested in views and landscape photography, he has also ventured into a field that has been virtually ignored in photographic history: images of gardens, famous and otherwise — and what these images can tell us about American life, class, and aesthetic values in an era of enormous social change. Watters makes abundantly clear in the comprehensive text that accompanies the photographs that Frances Benjamin Johnston (or FBJ, as he refers to her throughout the book) was in this late stage

of her life also possessed of an archivist’s eye. Johnston was in many respects one of the earliest photojournalists, using a precise technique to create documentary images often presented in sequence to tell a visual story. Her photographic vision nonetheless always revealed the ideals of her social class: as documents of late-nineteenthcentury concepts of social improvement, her works conveyed a commitment to aesthetic enhancement and cultural enlightenment that were at the core of her era’s progressive campaigns. Many Americans of the upper and upper middle classes were at this time involved in the City Beautiful movement just as Australians embraced the ideals of the Garden City movement — which encouraged beautification projects through aesthetic education. Johnston’s style and ideological convictions grew out of these ideals. This fact of a class-determined social agenda is as evident in her famous depictions of students at Hampton Institute as it is in the images of wealthy people’s gardens so beautifully reproduced in this catalogue. While the photographs at Hampton place the students in carefully constructed tableaux depicting them at useful occupations — a kind of aestheticised classification — these garden images are just as meticulously composed for aesthetic purpose and with typological intent. Johnston photographed these gardens between 1907 and the end of the 1920s, presenting them as hand-coloured lantern slides for educational lectures around the country. The lectures were especially popular with members of America’s

World of Antiques & Art 59


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